FAMILY, FORGIVENESS & FAITH: THE LEGACY OF KOBE BRYANT

Where were you and what were you doing when news that basketball legend Kobe Bryant had died in a horrific helicopter crash reached you? I was in a meeting of Regional Conference presidents when someone broke the news. A collective gasp was followed by an eerie hush as we tried to reconcile ourselves to the untimely and tragic passing of Bryant, which sent shock waves not just around the United States of America but around the world.

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SEEING 20/20 IN 2020

Happy New Year! The start of a year provides opportunity for reflection and projection. It’s a time to look back before looking forward with hope and purpose. Each New Year dawns with possibility and potential, evoking in us not only memories of the past but resolutions for growth and progress in the year ahead. 2020 will be a significant year. It will be a census year in this country, and Americans will be voting for a president and other federal and state officials in November 2020. In the middle of the year, Seventh-day Adventists are going to convene a General Conference Session in Indianapolis, Indiana, to conduct the business of the church, including the election of leaders for the world church.


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THE MARVEL AND MEANING OF THE MANGER

What do you think about when you think of Christmas? Frost and snow? Carols being sung on street corners? Holly-decked churches and homes aglow with color and gaiety? Feasting and revelry? Greetings cards stressing themes of love, goodwill, happiness, and Christmas evokes a medley of warm and sublime images.  Read more…

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GIVE THANKS

Mental health issues are very much in the news of late. Perhaps because the stigma of discussing mental health is disappearing, we’re hearing more and more about mental  conditions, such as depression. Nowadays, people are not as loathe to admit that they are struggling with depression as they once were, and it’s to society’s benefit that to admit that one is struggling with mental health issues is no longer taboo.

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IN APPRECIATION OF OUR PASTORS

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17, NIV)

One of the fondest memories I have of my childhood is that of our pastor coming to visit my family at home.   Even now, I can see him in my mind’s eye pulling up outside our humble home, getting out of his car and walking up to the front door, his Bible tucked under his arm.   He never seemed rushed, often spending at least half an hour talking with us about our walk with God and our needs before praying for the entire family.   We very much appreciated the visits of our pastor, a devoted servant of God who we believed cared deeply and loved his members. Read more…


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1619-2019: 400 YEARS OF STRUGGLE AND SURVIVAL

August 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves on American soil. Unlike other racial and ethnic groups who came to America voluntarily pursuing dreams of prosperity and progress, the first Africans brought to Virginia in August 1619 had been captured and delivered to America against their wills to work and live under unconscionable and inhumane conditions. For hundreds of years, the slave trade brought millions of Africans to America, and when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1865, there were approximately four million slaves in the United States of America.

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IMPACT INDIANA: TRANSFORMING LIVES

Every five years, Seventh-day Adventists convene a General Conference Session to conduct the business of the church. Delegates from around the world converge on a host city for the 10-day event of information, instruction, and inspiration, which usually attracts upwards of 100,000 people. In 2020, the General Conference Session will take place in Indianapolis, the “Circle City” in the center of Indiana, the state that calls itself the “Crossroads of America.” Indianapolis, the capital of the state of Indiana, is a fascinating mid-western city of moderate winters and bearable summers, and has hosted a General Conference Session before.

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STEWARDSHIP OF LIFE

The City Temple SDA Church has lost an icon. The Lake Region Conference has lost a pioneer. The North American Division has lost a trailblazer. The Seventh-day Adventist denomination has lost a pillar. The Psalmist declares, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). Read more…

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A TRANSATLANTIC FAMILY REUNION

History was made in April 2019, when a delegation of Regional Conference presidents traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, for a summit with Adventist church leaders of the East-Central Africa (ECD)and West Africa Divisions (WAD), and the vice-chancellor (President) of Adventist University of Africa (AUA).   The delegation included the Executive Secretary of the North American Division, the Regional Affairs Director of the Pacific Union, and three Regional Conference, treasurers. Read more…

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OUT OF THIS WORLD

Are less and less people pursuing teaching as a career these days? Is the teaching profession struggling to recruit the best and the brightest?

I was at a graduation ceremony recently when those receiving the degree of Master of Arts in Teaching were invited to rise. When all 12 candidates stood up, my wife poked me in the side, whispering that when she graduated with the degree several years ago, hundreds did too.

Why are fewer people going into teaching nowadays? The answers run the gamut, from low pay to unsafe classrooms and neighborhoods. Politics and economics also play critical roles in making teaching, especially at the elementary school level, unattractive and meaningless.

Now more than ever, society needs to register and convey its appreciation of teachers. It is most appropriate that teachers are recognized for their sacrificial service, for few other professions impact lives as that of teaching. Indeed, teaching is the mother of all other professions. Everybody has had a teacher at some point in their life, whether in the formal classroom or in other spheres of life. What better time to thank a teacher for his or her influence than during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-10, 2019.

The theme of Teacher Appreciation Week this year is “Out of this world,” which aligns perfectly with the Seventh-day Adventist philosophy or understanding of Christian education. Adventists understand that education is for now and eternity, for life in this world and in the world to come. Adventist teachers help to shape minds after the divine similitude.   They point their students heavenward, underscoring that the things that are seen are temporary, but that those that are unseen and yet to be experienced are real and eternal (2 Cor. 4:18).

The concept of “Out of this World” also connotes excellence. Mediocrity does not belong in the classroom. Its negative effects are almost always irreversible. Countless students never bounce back from exposure to an incompetent teacher who lacked a passion for teaching and who failed to connect with his or her students. Teachers who shun mediocrity by challenging their students to perform “Out of this World” are teaching in the truest sense of the vocation. Such teachers are honoring the rich heritage of teaching.

I wish to encourage you to take a moment this week to thank a teacher for his or her service. Express appreciation for the huge difference the teacher is making. Let the teacher know that he or she is changing the course of history.   Share with the teacher that he or she is influencing lives for eternity. Stress that the teacher will never earn what he or she is worth  and that, in the end, sacrificial service helps to define and characterize good teaching.

Almost universally, an apple on the desk of a teacher signifies appreciation for the teacher. It is a tangible expression of gratitude for a life that is being poured into the lives of others, often at some peril. Please offer a gift of gratitude to a teacher this week. Both you and the teacher will benefit from your kind gesture. Together, let’s celebrate our teachers!

R. Clifford Jones

Pastor/President


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